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Reading Girls' School newsletter - 15 October 2021

Principal's Message: Beyond the classroom.

This week we had the pleasure of hosting several visitors to Reading Girls’ School both for STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) and for our Religious Education (RE) day, with opportunities for students also to explore Personal Development. Students were able to engage with members of our community from different faiths, as well as explore issues such as Friendships, Goal Setting, and Exam skills. Our student anti-bullying and friendship ambassadors were also responsible for organising and running workshops, encouraging students to consider, through role plays, the nature of healthy relationships.

Student's participating in role plays as part of a Friendship workshop.

A running theme was how impressed our visitors were in respect to how students conduct themselves and engage with the activities. It was a pleasure to read from one of our guests how much they enjoyed visiting the school and meeting the girls. He stated: “…such a great feel and culture within which to learn – ‘no one locked out’ – I loved that. We instantly felt welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed engaging with the teams. We learned a lot from it but it was fun learning!”

This week we continue with celebrating the diversity in our community with our annual Cultural Celebration Day on Friday 22 October. Students may come into school in cultural dress or in the colours of their flag. Students are welcome to wear their school uniform if they prefer.

A truly global community!

We are in our final week for Open Mornings, on Tuesday and Thursdays, which have been very popular. Our students have, as always, been excellent ambassadors for the school, showing prospective parents around. Every single parent has been impressed with how the guides have conducted themselves, and their ability to speak so enthusiastically about their school.

As part of our precautionary measure to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus we have cancelled our Year 7 and Year 8 information Evening. We will however explore a way of inviting parents in after half term. We continue to be in touch with Public Health to ensure we are following the correct measures. The advice we have been given is as follows:

  • Encourage at least twice weekly Lateral Flow Device (LFD) home testing for all staff and pupils.
  • Social isolation for anyone who tests positive until they receive a negative PCR test result
  • Daily LFD testing for all close contacts or household contacts for anyone waiting for a PCR result
  • Ensure good ventilation
  • Promote good hand hygiene

In line with this if a member of the family does test positive, please ensure that close contacts undertake daily LFD tests. Students should be testing using a Lateral Flow test every Sunday and Wednesday and report each result using the link below.

If your child tests positive please notify NHS Track and Trace and self-isolate. Students will need to take a PCR test within 2 days and if they should test negative they may return to school; if not they are required to self-isolate for 10 days. While students are isolating they will participate in our online hybrid lessons, to enable them to continue with their learning.

Finally, a polite reminder that all bikes/ scooters are left at the owners risk (in the bike rack). Your child should lock their bikes and scooters for security.

Marika Farrugia, Principal

Key Events coming up:

  • Week commencing 18 October : Year 10 Exams
  • 21 October: Year 7 and Year 8 Information Evening. This will now be recorded and shared with parents.
  • 22 October: Culture Day
  • 22 October: End of Half term.

New Enrichment Clubs

Young Magistrates club

The club is starting after half term and our first meeting will be the first Monday back for anyone interested, however, it is only for Years 8 and 9. The first meeting will take place in my classroom room A121. If you need this information in another format, please let me know.

Religious Education Day

This week saw the girls take part in our first RE day with some added Personal Development sessions too.

Experts from a variety of faiths, universities and the Salvation Army gave up their time to come in and run sessions for our girls as well as Year 8 renewing their annual CPR training, MADE Education revision techniques for year 11 and our very own Student Senior Leadership girls running sessions on “How to be a good friend."

The attitude and engagement levels from the students was, as always, a joy to witness. Challenging the visitors with their intelligent questions and genuine interest in learning about other people’s beliefs was apparent in all areas of the school!

At Reading Girls’ School, we strive create an environment where girls feel valued and look forward to coming to school. We have high expectations for our student’s attendance and attainment and aim for all of our students to attend a minimum of 98% of time (less than 4 days off per year).

Significantly, we want our girls to achieve in every aspect of school life and the statistics show why good attendance is so important.

  • One day of school missed = 6 hours missed learning
  • One day off school per school month = approximately 57 missed lessons per year
  • 90% attendance for a year = approximately 4 weeks off school (over 100 lessons missed)
  • 90% attendance for 5 years = Half a year off school (over 500 lessons)

Minor illness are the biggest contributor to reduced school attendance and we appreciate it can be tricky deciding whether or not to keep your child off school. We follow NHS guidelines about school sickness, so if your daughter has a minor cough, cold, stomach ache or headache, our recommendation is they come to school to maintain a healthy attendance.

If your child needs to be sent home, one of our trained members of staff will be on hand to help. If your child is too unwell to attend school, please call the school absence line before school starts on the first day of absence and every subsequent day.

Please try to arrange medical and dental appointments for outside of school hours and therefore keep medical appointments in school time to a minimum. If on the rare occasion a medical appointments during school time is unavoidable, I ask that your child attends school beforehand and/or returns to school immediately that same day following their appointment. If a student is absent from school first thing in the morning or immediately after lunch then they cannot receive an attendance present mark for that session.

I would also like to remind parents that holidays during term time cannot be authorised.

You can find out what your child’s attendance is by going to www.schoolgateway.com. Enter your email address and mobile number that is registered with the school. Select Send PIN – your 4 digit PIN will be sent via text message to your mobile phone. You will need this PIN number each time you log in so keep it safe!

Word of the Week

Every week in school we share a Word of the Week. Pupils are given the definition and etymology of the word, synonyms for the word and examples of sentences using the word. The aim is to expand the girls’ vocabulary and they are rewarded with a Word of the Week token if they use the word in their writing or speaking. Please do discuss this word at home...This week word of the week is.....

Year 7 STEM Day: Construction may not be the first place you think about “carbon footprints” but learning how to calculate one is enormously important in knowing how to reduce them

By Mr Marsh, STEM Programme Lead

Abbey and guests introducing their company and the day’s activities

Year 7 were fortunate enough this week to meet some of the companies, Balfour Beatty – Vinci and Fourtel, who are tasked with making the M4 motorway the smart highway of the future. Built originally in 1961, the M4 is the motorway in the United Kingdom running from west London to southwest Wales and plays a vital part of our local economy and everyday transport infrastructure. The original design featured only two lanes with expansion in to three lanes taking up as much width as the bridges would allow.

The new smart motorway is four lanes wide, meaning that the bridges spanning the road had to be replaced too. All of this construction work meant a lot of potential waste and a large amount of fuel burned in haulage to move and build new construction material and run the heavy plant machinery used to build the new highway.

Ranbir presenting the impact of climate change to the girls

The girls were first shown models about the climate and how the climate appears to be changing as a result of human activity. The presenters, Abbey, Rambir, Carey and Nick showed the audience how these changes might impact our lives the future. Our guests were candid in showing the girls how construction contributed a significant proportion of the carbon dioxide, a major emission of industry and burning fossil fuels, that we produce each year and how important it was to think of ways to reduce the impact of construction on our environment by reducing carbon emissions throughout projects like the local M4 motorway expansion.

Carey speaking about careers that link to construction

STEM days like these are especially relevant not just at a local level in terms of cultural capital in the light of COP26 this month. However, not all of the sessions delivered the heavy theory by lecturing from the front but by interactive workshops which even put their maths skills to the test! At some points the girls got into a very sticky situation indeed when they had to build a “spaghetti tower” using two methods: One, using fewer but locally sourced material and the other method by which teams could import from further afield but would have a higher carbon footprint because of the transport involved.

Girls designing their towers and calculating carbon footprints

This was more than just a metaphorical problem with gummy situations! The girls used marshmallows as glue and there were squeals of delight after sticky fingers were washed clean and judging took place for the highest towers and also for the lowest carbon footprint of their towers. The highest tower was over 55cm tall and locally sourced materials of course, had the lower carbon footprint by some margin although at times, design compromises had to be made.

One of the more successful teams and their competitive low-carbon spaghetti towers

Increasing Student Participation

“Talking Tokens”

Talking Tokens are issued by the classroom teacher and/or teaching assistant to pupils who participate to questions and/or ask questions during lessons. Pupils are encouraged to write their name and year group on the back of the 'Talking Token' and place them into the relevant 'Talking Token' collection box for their year group. At the end of each term, all 'Talking Tokens' are placed together and a pupil is selected at random. The more 'Talking Tokens' a pupil collects for contributing answers to questions in class, the more chances they have to win a prize.

At the end of this week the following number of 'Talking Tokens' collected across the whole school are 510. Well done to all those who received a token for their contribution in their lessons.

“Has your lesson been REAL (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning)?”

Using REAL tokens students have the opportunity to give instant feedback to staff about their experiences within the lesson.

Students are provided with a token and at the end of the lesson, are asked if their lesson has been R.E.A.L. (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning). Students then place their token into the 'Yes' or 'No' box, which is in every teaching classroom. Staff then uses this information to make any modification to their delivery of their lesson. These tokens are then collected in at the end of every week and counted.

Results for this week:

  • YES – 2287
  • No – 220 tokens

Many of you will be aware that the RGS car park is busy this year and this is of course due to the continued growth of the school. Maximum speed limit is 5mph. Please ensure that you are not driving any faster than this as you enter, during and when you exit the car park. Parents who do not comply with this speed limit will be asked not to drive through the car park.

How can we all help with the congestion at the beginning and end of the school day?

  • Where possible girls to walk/ cycle to school
  • Parents to team up and run car shares so that less cars are coming to RGS, in addition to helping the environment!
  • Any cars who do have to come to RGS will be required to TURN LEFT out of the school carpark from MONDAY 13th SEPTEMBER

A reminder that it is also not permitted to stop on the very busy Northumberland Avenue.

Sports in Mind

October half-term short breaks

The following services are offering short breaks for children and young people with additional needs living in Reading borough this October half-term:

  • Chance to Dance Stars CIC – SEND Activity Days, 25-27 October. Dance and drama activity days. Ages 5+. £20 per session.
  • Multi-sports camps – delivered by RFC Community Trust, 25-27 October, 10.30am-2pm. Multi-sport activities alongside specialist sports. Ages 8-16. Taking place at The Avenue School. £20 per day.
  • Make Sense Theatre – 27-29 October. Drama and multi-sensory workshops. Ages 5-18. Taking place at The Avenue School. £20 per workshop.

Stevensons - your local and online school uniform supplier

We are delighted to be launching a second-hand uniform shop at RGS. Please send in any good quality uniform you no longer need. Mrs Emmett will be awaiting your deliveries! For further information please email selliott@readinggirlsschool.net